There are too many intelligent, talented people riding around without any lights, like total idiots (a.k.a. "darkwads"). To help change this, I've been running a workshop called GlowHacker, which puts TRON-worthy light strips on your awesome bike.
They're durable! These bad boys stand up to a lot of smashing, as well as rain, mud, heat, and even playa dust.
They're cheap! The basic workshop doesn't teach anything too fancy, but is still hella fun and gives a great effect!
They're versatile! Each participant so far has created a different look, even with just a few LEDs. These become a visual signature as you explore the city at night. And they can be applied to bikes, skateboards (check out my Glowmobile up there), wheelchairs, Segways...
They're pretty theft-proof. I won't lie: one person has had his ripped off, literally. Which is incomprehensible, as they have basically no retail value and are glued to the bike frame. But this is much less of a worry than with detachable lights, and much cheaper than heavy-duty antitheft lights.
They're PRETTY! I mean, just... yeah.
Ready to go? VRRROOOOOOOOOMMMM!!
Step 1: Bill o' Materials
The typical workshop covers a taillight or handlebar set, and this Instructable will specifically talk about taillights (though you can easily adapt it).
- Hot glue gun and appropriately-sized glue sticks
- Hot glue is the best adhesive I've found for this. It sticks to bike varnish better than epoxy does, and if you need to make a repair, it's relatively easy to peel off. Epoxy is a nightmare!
- Zip ties (various colors) (long ones!)
- Heat shrink tubing (various colors)
- Torch or heat gun for heat-shrink
- Solder wire
- Soldering iron
- Wire strippers and side cutters
- 5 feet of solid-core dual wire: Solid-core wire is more rigid, which helps it stay in place and bend less on the bike, giving it more durability. You can get speaker or motor cable, which is 2 cables stuck together, usually with one demarcated as ground.
- 3 strips of 5050 RGB LEDs with epoxy coating (a.k.a. fitty-fitties): two 5-section strips and one 2-section strip.
- The LED strips are divided up into sections of 3 LEDs each, with copper pads separating the sections.
- Each section is 2", or 5cm, long.
- 1 x 9V battery
- The LEDs are designed to run on 12V. However, they shine mighty bright on a fresh 9V. If you want full-white lights, though, you'll need to use 8 AA batteries or a lantern battery.
- 1 x 9V connector (or holder for another type of battery)
- 2 x toggle switches (one multi-pole for power, one for colors)
- Double-pole, single-throw should suffice for power. For any section that switches between colors, you'll want a single-pole, double-throw switch.
The materials are intentionally generic, and can be obtained from Amazon, Radio Shack, and/or local electronics or art stores.